In New Hampshire, a 2019 bill calling for the creation of an independent redistricting commission — a widely supported method to prevent partisan gerrymandering — was passed by the state legislature with bipartisan support. However, Gov. Chris Sununu unexpectedly vetoed it when it reached his desk. In 2020, state legislators made changes to the bill to address the concerns Sununu voiced in his 2019 veto, but still, the governor vetoed it again. Notably, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is now fighting efforts to expand ballot access in Wisconsin, voiced his support for Sununu’s position in an op-ed published just after the 2019 veto.
American Oversight is co-counsel for New Hampshire resident Louise Spencer’s open records lawsuit for the governor’s communications with groups known to be working to restrict voting rights and to promote partisan redistricting, including the American Legislative Exchange Council and the National Republican Redistricting Trust. The lawsuit was dismissed in October 2020 by the Merrimack Superior Court, but in April 2021, Spencer, represented by American Oversight and New Hampshire attorney Paul Twomey, appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Beyond the records, this lawsuit seeks to clarify the terms of New Hampshire’s “Right to Know” Law — specifically, whether the statute applies to the governor’s office and which records must be made available. The lawsuit also seeks to determine whether the document disposal practices of the governor’s office are consistent with its constitutional obligations to make its records available to the public.
This effort is a part of American Oversight’s nationwide investigation into misconduct and corruption in state governments. More information on these investigations is available here.